Trade Unions & Works Councils in Ireland
We advise employers on all aspects of industrial relations and collective employment law in Ireland.
Our team works with employers across all sectors to manage their engagement with trade unions and works councils. It has particular experience in advising on engaging with unions in the context of collective consultation exercises, industrial action and European Works Councils.
Our team develops proactive industrial relations strategies for businesses that need to engage in collective consultation. These take into account both legal and commercial considerations, and wider issues such as unions’ leverage campaign tactics.
Proactive industrial relations strategies help employers avoid disputes. Industrial action is nevertheless sometimes unavoidable. Our team advises on all aspects of industrial action including union balloting, picketing, the withholding of pay, responding to unions’ leverage campaign tactics, and the strategic considerations involved in deciding whether to seek a strike injunction and applying for it.
European Works Councils
Our team has a particular focus on advising on European Works Councils under Irish law. It regularly advises on establishment requests, special negotiating body processes and the holding of annual and exceptional circumstances meetings. It has also advised on the only ever litigation on European Works Councils before both the Workplace Relations Commission and the Labour Court.
It also draws upon its members’ extensive experience of defending EWC litigation in the UK’s Central Arbitration Committee, the Employment Appeal Tribunal and the Court of Appeal. That experience includes successfully defending HPE against a challenge to it being the first multinational business to relocate its European Works Council arrangements from the UK to Ireland in anticipation of Brexit.
For further information, please see our guide on European Works Councils under Irish law.
Second-stage consultation launched on significant reforms to European Works Councils18 August 2023
The European Commission has published a second-stage consultation of the European social partners on strengthening social dialogue through a revision of the European Works Council Directive. Whilst draft legislation has still not been published, the reforms being contemplated would have profound implications for all businesses with a European Works Council.
WRC makes first decisions on European Works Councils operating in Ireland04 May 2023
In the first cases decided under Ireland’s legislation on European Works Councils, the Workplace Relations Commission has provided welcome guidance for multinational businesses that moved their European Works Councils to Ireland in light of Brexit.
Consultation launched on significant reforms to European Works Councils20 April 2023
The European Commission has published a first-stage consultation of the European social partners (BusinessEurope on the employer side and the European Trade Union Confederation on the employee side) on a proposed revision of the European Works Council Directive. Whilst the consultation process remains at an early stage, the reforms being contemplated would have profound implications for all businesses with a European Works Council as the aim is to strengthen social dialogue.
European Works Councils under Irish Law14 January 2021
European Works Councils are the only legally-mandated bodies for transnational information and consultation with employees in the world.